This Week in Villanova History: Feb. 14, 1997

By Jennifer Rudolph

The University has seen an increase in marijuana use among the student body within the last three years, according to the Rev. John Stack, O.S.A., dean of Students. Stack attributed this increased usage to the growing recreational attitude that adolescents have exhibited toward marijuana.

In response to this increase, he said that the University’s Drug and Alcohol Center has had speakers visit residence halls to communicate the risks and consequences of drug use. Stack added that, “The University does not support drug use and in cases where students cannot and will not be helped it is sometimes best that they leave the community.”

Marijuana is illegal in the United States, and in addition to a $500 fine, the University places students found using marijuana on disciplinary probation, said Stack.

However, Stack said, “With the exception of marijuana, a student found in possession of any other illegal drug is expelled from the University with the hope that they will get help.”

Students are occasionally tested for marijuana and other drugs as members of athletic teams. According to Gene DeFilippo, director of Athletics, the Athletics Department does not believe that there has been an increase in marijuana use among student athletes. DeFilippo said, “The Athletics department has done a very good job of drug education and drug testing for its athletes, and the program has helped to curb any drug use.”

Stack seems to share DeFilippo’s beliefs. “There are very few who have tested positive for drug use within the athletic department,” Stack said. “I believe that athlete drug use is less than the rest of the student body.” Several students have agreed that marijuana use is quite common within the student community. One student said, “I think marijuana use is just as social as drinking is among the Villanova students.”

Although marijuana use may be more prevalent among non-athletes, athletes are not complete exceptions. DeFilippo said, “I would be foolish to say that there aren’t any students or athletes using drugs, because if there are drugs in society there may be some here.”

Another student said, “I think marijuana use is a lot more common than people think it is, it seems it would be easier to transport pot into the residence halls without getting caught than a case of beer into them.” The University, however, has documented that there were only 18 reported incidents in which marijuana was involved last year, which is much less than the number of alcohol violations.

According to Forbes Magazine, June 17, 1996, an estimated 10 million Americans smoke marijuana each month. Each year within the United States, the illegal marijuana industry markets approximately $32 billion worth of marijuana to users. In Amsterdam, where both the sale and use of marijuana is legal, there is less marijuana abuse than in the United States.

In Amsterdam, there are 450 “coffee shops” where marijuana can be bought and smoked publicly. Each of these privately owned “coffee shops” generates approximately $1,000 in marijuana sales daily, which is all taxed by the government and incorporated into Holland’s formal economy. Holland has received severe criticisms from its European neighbors concerning their open policy toward marijuana. In response to this intense pressure from these nations, Holland has claimed that it is better to keep marijuana use legal so that its use can be monitored by government officials.

The Feb. 19, 1995, issue of The New York Times claimed that marijuana is the United States’ largest cash crop. Despite the fact that marijuana is illegal, many small farmers and gardeners have made a successful career by growing the marijuana plant. In fact, many illegal marijuana farms have been detected by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) flourishing indoors.

The University urges those students that have a drug problem to seek assistance either outside the community or at the Drug and Alcohol Center. Stack said, “Regular marijuana users find themselves mired in mediocrity, they manage to just get by, but never come close to achieving their potential.” According to Stack, drug use defeats the purpose of the community as an educational institution.